December 31, 2016 Subject:
Good Matrix. Love This Show
I love this show. But for the serious crowd maven, the three audience recordings of this night are rather thin gruel; all being far from the necessary “sweet spot” we crave for our daily fix. I’ve had the Frisch recording for almost a decade and always hoped for an FOB upgrade. Unfortunately, nothing better has surfaced since its emergence in 2007; so the next best hope was a matrix provided by some generous soul. And now we have it.
And this isn't a bad matrix (damning with faint praise, are we?). But in joking about that, I think it's definitely a step above the AUD recordings we currently have. In giving this review, I'm critiquing with all due respect to Hunter, Dave, Mick, and all who provide a much welcome service for The Faithful.
Having been lucky to see a number of fabulous shows throughout the 80's, I have been a dyed-in-the-wool audience guy for 36 years. Live ambiance is really where it's at !!! And the 9/2/80 performance in Rochester has always been at the top of my list for exemplary nights of pure, unadulterated sonic bliss. When a portion of Rochester's 2nd set was officially put out ten years ago, I was absolutely thrilled - then absolutely mortified - also being really really pissed at hearing one of the wildest audience shows I had ever heard on tape being completely negated by a soundboard that carried nothing of the evening’s exhilarating energy. Ziltch. For me, the publication of that snippet of songs from one of the greatest nights in GD history was a complete let-down of soul killing, crowd-less non-reaction. After searching for an upgrade of my poor AUD for twenty-five years, gleefully and curiously anticipating a pristine SBD sampling of the evening alla Dick's #3 pick, I was almost physically sickened by the unexpected emotional deflation from losing the crowd. It was a much deeper visceral reaction than gaining the music quality from the board. And to this day, I'm still astonished at how wrapped up I was and am in the atmospherics. It's all a question of being able to close my eyes and feel I'm sitting on the first row balcony rail of the Uptown again or standing DFC in front of the MSG board. It's ALL feel for being back in that room !!!
Thankfully, this production has little of that gut-wrenching Rochester reaction but, it still reminds me of the frustration I get in hearing matrixes that overemphasize boards at 70/30 or 60/40, or even 50/50 splits when a more natural, reverb-filled fit for a mix might be 40/60 or even seriously imbalanced 30/70 percentage. That is a purely personal opinion of getting that slightly distant, slightly hollow, live feel back.
With Jerry finally coming out of his eleven month long laryngitis, a clear recording of his voice in this upfront SBD can be off-putting at times along with Brent’s falsetto shrieks (equaling Donna's) also being too up-front. And the strange mix of instruments doesn’t help with Brent’s tinkle tinkle being the most prominent instrumental sound while Bobby’s rhythm guitar and Phil’s bass are almost non-existent. Listening to the beginnings of the show, the only drum I can hear clearly is the kick... though I have to admit the sound gets better as the evening progresses (Healy must have been playing with his... some knobs).
For me, boards are a double edged sword with the down side many times emphasizing The Boyz foibles while also being too sterile and stark in their presentation - which is why I love matrixes so much. I was just wondering if there was more board than necessary in this mix - like many Matrixes I listen to? The only way I have been able to soften them is adding some, if not allot of artificial reverb in audio editing which lessens the prominence of the board for a more natural, ambiant mix that allows for The Boyz’ vocals to better blend with whichever AUD the SBD is married to. I don’t know how Hunter did his wonderful 12/28/79 matrix that I just reviewed yesterday but, however he pulled it off, it is a beautiful sound that I would love to hear more of. I'm dying to know what this split was?
This critique is offered not knowing how both sources were testing out when trying to marry each at different percentages. I can only guess what a 40/60 or 35/65 or 30/70 mix would sound like since the audience recordings Hunter had to chose from are not as good as the 28th's 1st Row Balcony recording. I'm sure there were a lot of things he had to take into consideration that I am not aware of. Would vocal and instrumental reverb ghosting be at the forefront of problems in lowering the SBD percentage? Because "blending" is a poor or incorrect description of placing one digital source on top of another. My own attempts have been total disasters and I'm curious what the main issues are for the folks who do it regularly? I've never read a lengthy or even a short synopsis in any review explaining the difficulties of matching boards and AUDs. I'd love to see one.
In any case, I’m adding the matrix to my collection alongside the Frisch capture, softening the matrix in Soundforge with a heavy dose of reverb - which I've just done. Like usual, this puts the matrix in a much better light and is much more listenable. I'm still curious though, what a raw 40/60 or 35/65 mix would have sounded like? Hey Hunter, can you enlighten us on some of the audio problems you have when lowering the percentage mix of the SBD? I assume dealing with FOBs, FOBalconies, and a BOBs (like this one) are completely different strategies.
June 12, 2013 Subject:
Extra Garcia Goodness!
It is easy to hear from this lovely matrix creation how "locked-in" the sound system was at that Uptown on this night. Garcia is obviously diggin' it as he is not only singing with tender careful beauty but takes double-length solos in both 'Ship of Fools' and "He's Gone'. I'm a Black Peter freak, and after repeated listening, it is definitely my favorite of the Brent-era. Then non-stop rockin' until the finish line. Really, truly superb second set with all band members in psychedelic coil. Thanks tapers, matrix makers and IA!
April 10, 2012 Subject:
The first set shows signs of a disaster with strained readings and uninspired drums reminiscent of the 78 spring tour. Jerry makes several attempts to wake up during Cold Rain and Althea, but this set falls flat on it's face. Four starts for the second set with an Other One that makes what came before it a distant memory.
Check out Hunter's Matrix of 11/24 for a truly smoking show. Thanks again Mr. Trix.
March 22, 2012 Subject:
Hot, hot, hot show. No hyperbole necessary, just listen to this, you are in the the venue on a really good night with the Grateful Dead.
Highest recommendation. Crank it up.
My thanks for the great job on the mix on this one.